New York’s War on Food Trucks Rolls On
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  • If brick and mortar restaurants are worried about the competition from mobile food trucks, then they need to do what many restaurants have done in places that don’t have such ridiculous regulation, and that’s start a food truck of their own. Further, many entrepreneurial chefs see the food truck market as a low overhead more viable model to use their talents and ideas to start business.

    Also, the fear of uncleanliness in food trucks is mostly just an urban myth based on ignorant and illogical assumptions; and that fear in some cases is harnessed by overbearing gov’ts. If a food vendor sells food out of their truck that gets people sick, they will go out of business. Just like any other neighborhood brick and mortar, if you poison your clients, amazingly enough they don’t return. This type of market has a way of self-regulation. And in reality, I would bet that given the small space and visibility to the customer of the prep area in food truck or stand, the consumer pressure to keep the area clean makes for much cleaner kitchens that can hide behind brick and mortar. Food trucks just may be cleaner w/o any asinine regs. Once again, self-regulation at work.

    Btw NYC, keep it up…Us down here in Austin are benefiting from great entrepreneurial chefs that can easily open food trailer in our foodie town.

  • Jim Luebke

    It’s astonishing that a city famous for decades for its streetside hot dog carts hasn’t developed a workable set of rules for this kind of thing.

    This should have been a solved problem generations ago.

  • ojfl

    One has to wonder in a city as big as New York, with a vibrant word of mouth marketing, if all of this food regulation is indeed needed. Give people bad food at your own peril.

  • I think the bigger threat from food trucks is not to brick and mortar restaurant, but the nearly identical hot dog-and-schwarma carts on every corner.

  • Kavanna

    Food trucks are nothing new. When I lived in Philly 20 years ago, the city simply issued certificates to food trucks similar to restaurants.

    The new problem in NYC today is the pressure of established firms trying to use an already strangling regulatory system to stop competition. (Something similar is happening in the even more “progressive” DC.) Surely, they sense that a city bureaucracy already attuned to the needs of existing establishments and a patronizing bully of a mayor makes it the right moment.

  • Normally, I’m skeptical of overregulation, but sometimes regulation makes sense, and street food vendors in NYC is one place it makes sense. Certainly, food trucks should meet the same health and sanitation standards as the city’s thousands of restaurants and take out joints. Beyond that, such issues as where they can park to do business are not overly picky. Manhattan streets — and sidewalks! — during the day are packed with traffic. Planting a 16-foot van at Fifth Avenue and 57th Street at noon will inconvenience thousands of people, and after all, if you’re running your business on public property, not your property, you can hardly complain about limits being imposed.

    And by the way, NYC does not distinguish between food trucks and food carts, which have the same licensing procedures. The number if these businesses is limited by a statutory ceiling on the number of annual permits that may be issued. There are 3100 available each year (which seems like a lot to me), plus another 1000 seasonal permits valid only in the warmer months. Fruit and vegetable carts are in a separate category with another 1000 permitted.

  • Mogumbo Gono

    Nanny Bloomberg is the worst thing to happen to NYC, including Tropical Storm Sandy and 9/11/2001.

    Now I live in the Peoples’ Socialist Soviet of California, where the same bureaucratic mind-set is in place. A few yearsa ago, when lots of Vienamese car washes sprang up to do a damn good job of washing your car for only $3, the car washes got together and had the city run them off.

    Who was hurt? Us little people were the ones hurt. Now we get a $16 car wash — and half the time some Hispanic car washer steals our audio CD’s. [Well, maybe not half the time. But the Vietnamese were much more honest.]

    Government is our biggest problem by far. Food trucks and car washes are no problems by comparison. I would love to see a fat lazy city bureaucrat attmept to make a living with a food truck business.

    As if!

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